Money Transfers

HSBC International Transfers (Fully Explained)

Last updated:
February 2, 2023
If you’re an existing HSBC customer, using your bank for your international transfers can sometimes be the most obvious option. But is it the best one?

You probably use them all the time for your day to day banking.

But does this necessarily mean that you should use them for an international money transfer?

In this guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about HSBC international transfers, including how much they cost and how long they take.

I’ll untangle the details HSBC doesn't tell you, give you some helpful alternatives, and ultimately, help make your international transfer easier.

HSBC building
Are HSBC a good option for international transfers?

Does HSBC charge for international transfers?

There are charges and fees for using HSBC for international money transfers.

Costs from HSBC for international transfers come in two forms:

  1. Transfer fees
  2. Exchange rates

HSBC Transfer Fees

Transfer fees are flat fees that you pay every time you make an international transfer.

Here are the transfer fees charged by HSBC:

Transfer method Online Mobile app In branch Telephone
Within Europe Free Free Free Free
Outside Europe £5 Free £5 £5

As far as big banks go, HSBC’s transfer fees aren’t bad at all.

Just like most other banks, HSBC wants you to process your transfer via your online or mobile banking apps (that’s why they make it free).

But if you’d prefer to speak to a real person (and I don’t blame you), paying £5 is not bad when compared to other banks.

However, the important point is that all transfer fees are totally unnecessary.

There are many currency brokers out there who don’t charge transfer fees.

And as I’ll explain, the biggest costs (by far) come from the exchange rates.

Don’t be enticed by small transfer fees. 

The exchange rate is where you need to pay close attention.

HSBC Exchange Rates

The biggest cost to any international money transfer comes from the exchange rate.

This is because you are charged a percentage of the total amount you are transferring.

HSBC usually charges between 1.5% and 3% of your total transfer amount.

This is incorporated into the exchange rates they provide, and is called the “margin”.

Let me show you how this works:

If you were transferring £100,000 into Euros for example, a 3% margin would mean that your transfer costs you £3,000.

Safe to say that’s a huge cost!

The exchange rates and costs can vary with HSBC, which is the case with many banks and money transfer providers.

A useful tool that can help give you an indication of how much HSBC will charge for your international transfer is the HSBC exchange rate calculator.

I used this to get an indication of what HSBC are charging in their exchange rates.

You can compare the exchange rate displayed by HSBC to the rate shown on Google and get a feel for the difference in the rates.

However, I would still use this with caution.

There’s no guarantee that you’ll get the exchange rate displayed on the tool when you actually come to make the transfer.

There’s a chance it could still be higher and the cost could be much larger!

As a general rule, always double check the exchange rate before you make your international transfer.

How long does it take for HSBC to transfer money internationally?

The length of time that your international money transfer will take depends on where you’re sending money to and from.

If your HSBC international money transfer is between the UK and Europe, it will usually take between 1 and 2 working days.

If you’re transferring money outside of Europe with HSBC, it should take no more than 5 working days.

In my experience, international money transfers are normally relatively quick.

But there can sometimes be delays due to clearing times as the banks send and receive the money.

Public holidays in other countries can sometimes cause unexpected hold-ups as well.

I’d always advise factoring plenty of waiting time into your plans so that everything runs smoothly and you’re not caught out by any delays.

Can you make international transfers from the HSBC app?

The HSBC online banking app is often a great option for sending money to friends and family in the UK. 

However, this doesn’t mean you should use it for international money transfers.

The HSBC online banking app still subjects you to large exchange rate costs.

For domestic money transfers, the HSBC online banking app is great because it makes things quick and easy.

This is great for day-to-day banking when everything is straightforward.

But international money transfers are not straightforward.

International money transfers are complex and defy our modern expectations to do everything through our smartphone.

You can use the online app. But should you?

I’d advise against using an online app to make your international money transfer.

When you’re dealing with large amounts of money (where some providers have the potential to cost thousands), it’s best to take your time.

Whichever company you choose to use, I’d want to speak to someone over the phone.

Not only would I want to make sure I wasn’t being charged an extortionate exchange rate, quite simply, I’d want to make sure the money was being sent to the correct bank account!

For large international money transfers, I would recommend using a currency broker where you can get a good exchange rate and get expert guidance on completing the transfer.

The HSBC online banking app also has a limit of £50,000 per transfer.

This is a huge inconvenience when you need to send larger amounts.

It’s just another indication that the HSBC online app is not designed for large international transfers.

Man holding phone
The HSBC app might expose you to higher costs

How do HSBC international transfer fees compare to other providers?

HSBC and other high street banks typically have high exchange rate costs when compared with other providers like currency brokers.

Compared to other banks, overall costs from HSBC are relatively good, but they are generally much higher than using a currency broker.

The exchange rate margin is what’s most important.

From my research, HSBC is one of the better banks out there when it comes to exchange rate offerings.

For example, Barclays international transfers are priced at around 3% - 4%. 

HSBC's exchange rate calculator does offer useful information on potential exchange rate costs.

I would still always double check your exchange rate when you come to make the international money transfer.

Comparing with other providers (more notably, currency brokers) will help you get the best rate out there.

Currency brokers typically offer much better exchange rates for international transfers.

Not only that, a currency broker will provide you with an expert account manager who can guide you on the finer details of your transfer.

HSBC international transfer limits

HSBC’s transfer limits are one of the most annoying things I found with their international transfer service.

Alongside their £50,000 domestic transfer limit, and there’s a £10,000 limit when making an international transfer via online or mobile banking.

Limits like this can make meeting deadlines (such as a foreign property purchase) very difficult.

For me personally, it’s a deal breaker.

To increase that limit to £10 million, you need to be a HSBC Premier customer.

To become a HSBC Premier customer you’ll need to discuss opening a Premier account in branch or over the phone and also meet eligibility criteria.

That’s a lot of faff.

It would be much easier to create an account with a currency broker where you’ll get better guidance and exchange rates, with no transfer limits.

Is HSBC a good option for international money transfers?

When compared to other UK banks, HSBC is a cost-effective option for international money transfers.

Overall, HSBC is expensive and inefficient for international money transfers because they have high exchange rate costs and inconvenient transfer limits.

Our recommendation is to use a currency broker.

Typically, a currency broker offers much better exchange rates and an all-round better service.

You will receive the guidance of a personal currency exchange expert who can help guide you through the transfer.

That way, you can be confident you’re saving money and relax knowing that the details of your transfer are taken care of.

That way, not only can you be confident of saving money, you can relax knowing that your transfer is in the safe hands of a specialist.

To get you started, TopMoneyCompare’s #1 rated currency broker is Key Currency.

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Why Trust TopMoneyCompare?

Even in 2022, most banks are still majorly overcharging on international transfers.

They provide some of the worst exchange rates on the market, combined with hefty transfer fees.

Fortunately, there are lots of other options available for you to get a better deal.

You’ll need to know which option is going to save you the most money and provide the service you need.

Using TopMoneyCompare’s real-time comparison engine, you can do exactly that.

We launched in 2021 with the idea of helping people get the price and service they deserve when moving money abroad.

Fast-forward nearly 2 years, thousands of people now trust our guides and reviews.
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